Magazine article Marketing

A Serious Health Problem

Magazine article Marketing

A Serious Health Problem

Article excerpt

How can marketers dispel views that healthcare cover is an unaffordable luxury?

Bupa's boardroom reshuffle, completed last week, underlines the need for experienced consumer marketers in the healthcare industry at a time when the sector is facing complex issues related to its products and services.

The brand has turned to reinforcements from other sectors, including FMCG, and promoted former British Airways commercial director Martin George to the role of managing director for group development. This would seem to be proof that Bupa believes those from outside the industry are more likely to create campaigns that resonate with consumers.

Fiona McAnena, who joined Bupa last year as group brand director from PepsiCo, says her background is pertinent exactly because she approaches healthcare campaigns with the consumer in mind.

'If we can't find ways of explaining what we're doing so the layperson can understand it, then we're not doing our job,' she explains.

The recession has taken its toll on healthcare insurers. Mintel reports that many individuals and employers view private medical insurance as an 'unaffordable luxury'. Indeed, last year, corporate and personal private medical insurance subscriptions both fell by 5%, and there was a 5% drop, too, in the number of people contributing to a healthcare cash plan, according to Mintel's latest report on the sector.

What's more, the planned hike to insurance premium tax in January is likely to further deter corporate customers. At the same time, the cost of drugs and treatment, particularly for cancer, is rising.

AXA PPP has decided that the answer to addressing these considerable issues lies in advertising that focuses on low-cost offers. The insurer's latest, pounds 2.5m campaign, unveiled earlier this month, promotes AXA's 'six week option', which provides treatment to policyholders only if the NHS fails to do so within that time.

Other insurers have also launched flexible plans, such as Aviva's Speedy Diagnostics and Bupa's Patient Cash, many of which are cheaper to provide and carry lower premiums.

'Customers no longer want an off-the-shelf product that includes benefits they will never use,' says Adam Beckett, head of partnerships, direct, marketing and international, at Aviva UK Health. …

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